Merkel vs Trump: Germany rages at US President over troops pullout

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However, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has invited Mr Trump to reassign troops to his country instead. The move would reduce US troops numbers in Germany to 25,000, from 34,500, is unrelated to Mr Trump’s recent spat with Mrs Merkel after she rejected his G7 summit invitation – but nevertheless underlines the frosty relationship between the two world leaders.

Johann Wadephul, foreign policy spokesman for Mrs Merkel’s CDU/CSU parliamentary group, said: “The plans once again show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary leadership task: the involvement of alliance partners in decision-making processes.”

All NATO partners benefited from the cohesion of the alliance, and only Russia and China gain from discord, Mr Wadephul said.

He added: “This should be given more attention in Washington.”

Mr Wadephul also spoke of a “further wake-up call” to Europeans to position themselves better in terms of security policy.

The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Andreas Nick, who like Mr Wadephul is a member of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, told German newspaper Deutsche Welle the indications were “that the decision was not a technical but a purely politically motivated decision”.

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A US official, who did not want to be identified, said on Friday the move was the result of months of work by the top US military officer, General Mark Milley.

As such, they had nothing to do with tensions between Mr Trump and Mrs Merkel, who declined Mr Trump’s invitation to attend a summit this month, believing it would be inadvisable given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The troops withdrawal, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Mr Trump’s presidency.

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About 17,000 US civilian employees support US troops in Germany.

It is believed the United States also has nuclear warheads there.

In May, the then-US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, accused Berlin of undermining NATO’s nuclear deterrent, taking aim at Merkel’s junior coalition partners after some of their leaders called for nuclear disarmament.

Mr Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and has accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance.

He has been particularly critical of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between the two countries.

On Thursday, a group of US senators submitted a bill that would expand the US sanctions to targeted countries involved in the project.

The legislation is backed by Republican senators Ted Cruz, John Barrasso, Tom Cotton and Ron Johnson, plus Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

Meanwhile, speaking to a Polish radio station today, Mr Morawiecki said: “I deeply hope that as a result of the many talks that we had part of the troops based today in Germany which are being removed by the United States will indeed come to Poland.

“The decision is now on the US side.”

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